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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Virgin Media Misinformed Its Clients

Eighteen people have submitted complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority that a TV advertisement claiming that the ISP offered a broadband service without buffering was misleading.

The complainants claimed that they could still experience buffering. In response, the service provider argued that although there was a technical definition of the term “buffering”, the consumers misunderstood it and believed it was synonymous with terms “interruptions” and “delays” accompanied by the buffering symbol appearing on the screen.

It said that the purpose of the advertisement was to stress the frustrations the subscribers may have experienced when that symbol had appeared, especially during video playback. Virgin media wanted to promote the idea that faster broadband could eliminate the frustrations that its clients had when buffering occurred. That’s why the company said that the performance of its broadband services substantiated the statement that the subscribers could suffer no more buffering.

In addition, Virgin media explained that it requires download speeds of 1.5 to 4Mbps to stream video file for services like those offered by Internet movie streaming portals. The ISP pointed out that theoretically, by providing a consistent download speed over 4Mbps, the company could support video streaming with a greater likelihood that buffering wouldn’t be experienced by the users.

Therefore, since users could achieve such average speeds from Virgin Media, they were less likely to suffer from buffering and it was true that subscribers could say good-bye to the problem.

Nevertheless, the Advertising Standards Authority was not convinced, saying that while there could be some factors affecting buffering beyond the control of the ISP, it can't be said that the average user would notice this. The outfit also pointed out that without qualification, the advertisement could be understood by the public to mean that buffering in general would be eliminated by the fibre-optic broadband service. As a result, the Internet service provider has been ordered to remove the advertisement and make sure it isn’t shown again in its current form. The Advertising Standards Authority also recommended being more clear about the advantages of its services next time.

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